Archive for 28/09/2013

ElgarBlog from Edward Elgar Publishing

September 27 has been established as World Tourism Day by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The aim of the day is to raise awareness that tourism is vital to the international community and to show how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

It is not surprising that tourism has been highlighted as a significant world industry, and research in the area of tourism economics has increased substantially in recent years. Larry Dwyer is a leading scholar in this area and has recently co-edited a two-volume work which comprises a selection of seminal articles published over the past decade, specifically chosen for their theoretical content and contribution to informed policy making. 

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Some thoughts on New Zealand PM John Key’s visit to the UK and France, which I covered for Fairfax Media this week and last …

Key and Cam at nbr 10
Cam-er-on-in: John Key got a warm welcome but little else from the British PM

If, in a few years, New Zealand finds itself economically adrift of Europe, it will not be because of lack of high-level rhetoric to try and prevent it.

On his latest trip to Europe, Prime Minister John Key sounded almost urgent about the risks of New Zealand becoming overly dependent on the Asian economies. He told an audience of business and diplomatic figures in London that New Zealand’s trading relationships had come “almost full circle” from dependence on Britain and benign neglect of Asia to the opposite.

“We are increasingly integrated into the trade and economic architecture of Asia, despite very different cultural and political traditions,” Key said.

“At the same…

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This is another in a series of semi-regular pieces I do in which I try and set out what science and engineering can achieve and what it can’t do. In short, try and sort out science fact from science fantasy.

Last month, Elon Musk made a somewhat surprising announcement of a plan to build a 570 km Vactrain system from Los Angeles to San Francisco, for the bargain price of $ 6 billion. The media quickly reported it with great enthusiasm, however this has turned to gradual and increasing scepticism as they’ve inevitably asked engineers their opinion and they’ve generally taken the view that it borders on science fiction, if not science fantasy.

Certainly it has to be said, Elon Musk has a habit of proposing wacky ideas and proving his critics wrong. When he first launched an electric car business he was told that he was…

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Eye on Housing

In August, interest rates on conventional mortgages used to purchase newly built homes increased for the third month in a row, according to data released yesterday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  After rising by roughly 1 tenth of a percentage point in June and roughly 4 tenths in July, the average contract interest rate on conventional loans for newly built homes increased by another 26 basis points in August, to 4.20 percent.Rate C Aug13The average initial fee on the new home loans dipped slightly, from 1.11 to 1.06 percent.  That was  not nearly enough to offset the increase in the contract rate, so the effective rate on the loans (after amortizing the initial fees) also increased by 26 basis points, to 4.33 percent.  Meanwhile, the average term on conventional new home loans continues to hover around 28 and half years (28.6 years in August).

Rate E Aug13After the August increases, both…

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New NY 23rd

Why Congressman Tom Reed’s Political Scheme Won’t Stop the Shutdown He Voted For

 Congressman Tom Reed is scrambling to cover his tracks today after he voted for a measure last week that now has the country hurtling toward a government shutdown. Congressman Reed turned to a pathetic political maneuver to confuse his constituents about his vote to shut down the government by introducing a Continuing Resolution that he knows has no chance of passing or fixing the shutdown mess that he voted to create.

“Once again Congressman Tom Reed is scrambling to react to a crises he created himself, and this time it’s one that could result in a government shutdown that will hurt millions of hardworking families,” said Marc Brumer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  “Congressman Reed’s bogus political scheme is designed to confuse his constituents about how he already voted for a measure that could shut down…

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Pres Signs ObamacareIn politics, words can be very deceiving. What really matters is the actions people take. A most recent example is this: the Republicans in Congress have been saying they would refuse to pass a budget, or even a continuing resolution to fund the government for a few months, that includes funding for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. They have threatened to shut down the government to get their way. This all seems simple enough, but the reality is of course much different from the public pronouncements.

Take the basic premise of what the Republicans are saying about Obamacare. They claim that it will be a total disaster. As I have written in an earlier post, If they are right, then having it go into effect would be very positive for them from a political perspective. Unhappy voters will reject the Democrats who voted for the bill, helping the Republicans…

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Boomers, Markets & Money

My friend Ann said, “What I want to know is: What is stopping me from investing my money?”

Ann is not alone. A Nationwide Financial survey found that more people are afraid of investing in the stock market (62%), than are afraid of death (58%), or public speaking (57%.)

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, gave advice on this topic in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman gave this sermon to fictional character Sam:

“I sympathize with your aversion to losing any gamble, but it is costing you a lot of money.”

Kahneman advised, “You will do yourself a large financial favor if you are able to see each of these gambles as part of a bundle of small gambles and rehearse the mantra that will get you significantly closer to economic rationality: you win a few, you lose a few. The main purpose…

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